August 7, 2008
March of Dimes Mobile Health Centers Providing Care to Moms in Gulf Coast Areas Still Lacking Public Health Services
To: NATIONAL EDITORS
Although almost all of the hospitals in Jefferson Parish have reopened, fewer than two-thirds are operating in Orleans Parish, and none have reopened in St. Bernard Parish.
Since their launch in 2007, the March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers have provided more than 3,000 patient visits to the areas hardest hit by the hurricanes: New Orleans; its suburbs St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward; the Lake Charles area; and Biloxi, Mississippi. The program is on target to provide more than 15,000 visits in three years.
These four March of Dimes mobile health centers bring preconception, prenatal and well-baby medical care to pregnant women, new mothers and babies who desperately need it, said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. Because our centers are mobile, we can bring quality health care where its needed most, like St. Bernard Parish.
The March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers continue to bring doctors, nurses, medical supplies, the latest technology and information directly to mothers and their babies, an important component of rebuilding communities. Providing access to high- quality medical care is vital to improving birth outcomes in the region.
For example, in 2004, before the hurricanes, Louisianas preterm birth rate was 15.6 percent, nearly 25 percent above the national average. In 2005, the states preterm birth rate increased to 16.5 percent. Mississippis preterm birth rate increased to 18.8 percent in 2005, from 17.9 percent in 2004.
As workers moved to the Gulf Coast to rebuild, the Spanish- speaking population significantly expanded, and access to health care is limited for them.
Many of our patients are Spanish-speaking, and because we are bi- lingual we can offer these women access to quality health care, says Rosa Bustamante-Forest, RN, MPH, MN, program director for the Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center in New Orleans. Were seeing repeat patients from last year who are pregnant again, which speaks volumes to the quality of care we offer.
The Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers were funded through the March of Dimes Hurricane Assistance Fund that included a $3 million gift from the people of Qatar. The mobile health centers are staffed by the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center and Coastal Family Health Center.
Inside, the Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers look like a regular healthcare providers office, with private exam areas, waiting areas and nurses station. They are equipped with fetal monitors, ultrasound and other equipment, and a backup generator. The handicap accessible centers have bilingual staff, including an obstetrician, nurse practitioner or midwife, a nurse, lab technician and an outreach worker. The vehicles have a fixed schedule at consistent locations each week so services will be dependable and expected.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.comor nacersano.org.
SOURCE March of Dimes
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